PARISH MISSIONS EVALUATION: WHAT BEAUTIFUL DAYS THE CONCLUDING CEREMONIES OF MISSIONS ARE FOR A PASTOR!

Courtès, intimately involved with the Founder from the beginning, is quoted as saying nostalgically that the missions of their first times together as Missionaries were never surpassed. (H. Courtès, Mémoires, quoted in RAMBERT, Volume I, p. 228)

It was the enthusiasm of something new – a group of men experiencing the excitement of seeing that their ideal worked, and the sense of wonder at perceiving the results. With each mission, their ideals were transformed and strengthened. Eugene participated with them until 1823, and in these years he injected into these missions all that was special of his own vision and spirit. Thereafter he was fully involved as Superior General, albeit at a distance, in all the details of the missions until the Congregation became too big for him to be intimately involved with details.

His interest in missions was not limited to the Oblates but overflowed to his diocese. As Bishop of Marseilles he actively encouraged the parish missions, and even wrote a Pastoral Letter to his diocese supporting their being regularly conducted. As a young priest he had recognised the importance of the parish missions and had dedicated his life to this ministry – now, thirty years later he was unwavering in the same conviction. In a beautiful passage in his Diary in 1846 he wrote about his joy at being able to participate in the ceremonies of a mission as Bishop of his diocese:

[Closure of the mission at St-Antoine]. What beautiful days the concluding ceremonies of missions are for a bishop! People must never be grateful to me that I never refuse an invitation to be there. It is a consolation to see a parish reconciled with God, to receive at the hands of its shepherd the Body of Jesus Christ, to speak edifying words to this portion of my flock, to fulfil in this way the important duty of preaching which is obligatory for bishops, to give confirmation to people who would not otherwise receive it – it surpasses all the fatigue involved. I believe that I would commit a mortal sin if, being able so easily to give the Holy Spirit and produce perfect Christians, I refrained for frivolous reasons from responding to the desires of the souls who have been entrusted to me.

Diary, 22 March 1846, O.W. XXII

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One Response to PARISH MISSIONS EVALUATION: WHAT BEAUTIFUL DAYS THE CONCLUDING CEREMONIES OF MISSIONS ARE FOR A PASTOR!

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Although I have never taken part in an Oblate Mission, I have on occasion [specially after reading and reflecting on them] wonder what they might be like.

    And although not the focus of this posting I find myself thinking of community and togetherness, of the personal and yet it is together how we come to it. This morning I thought of the parish Reconciliation Service which we held last week. All of us coming together where there were readings and a type of examination of conscience, a time of reflection, prayers. We were each of us there taking part in something that was highly personal and yet there together as a community. There was something shared between us. And when it was over we left in pairs and groups talking about how meaningful it had been. We had taken part in something together and yet alone. I thought too of some of the retreats I have been on and how by the end of them there is such a sense of community, something shared with each other as well as the personal.

    And to be a part of organizing or giving a retreat, the sharing, the accompanying – I like that idea, the accompanying. What a gift that is. We are each of us on our own personal journey and yet we do it together. It is all so intensely personal and yet “we” do it, together somehow. I am reminded of a song by Ann Mortifee called Born to Live, where she sings of how each of us experience the same things, it is a “we” and yet we do it in our own way, with our own flavour. The music is deep and building, full of life and the image as I listen to the words with the music is of people, many people climbing a hill, making the journey together. With each other. I leave with the words to that song:

    BORN TO LIVE – (Ann Mortifee & Michel Legrand)

    We were born to live, not just survive
    Though the road be long and the river wide
    Though the seasons change and the willows bend
    Though some dreams break, some others mend

    We were born to give and born to take
    To win and lose and to celebrate
    We were born to know and born to muse
    To unfold our hearts, take a chance and choose

    We were born to love though we feel the thorn
    When a ship sets sail to return no more
    Though a door be closed and we feel the pain
    To chance it all and to love again

    We were born to reach, to seek what’s true
    To surrender all to make each day new
    We were born to laugh and born to cry
    To rejoice and grieve, just be be alive

    We were born to hope and to know despair
    And to stand alone when there’s no one there
    We were born to trust and to understand
    That in every heart there’s an outstretched hand

    We were born to live, to be right and wrong
    To be false and true, to be weak and strong
    We were born to live, to break down the walls
    And to know that life is to taste it all

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